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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
October 2024
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Book description

Interweaving a social history of string playing with a collective biography of its participants, this book identifies and maps the rapid nationwide development of activities around the violin family in Britain from the 1870s to about 1930. Highlighting the spread of string playing among thousands of people previously excluded from taking up a stringed instrument, it shows how an infrastructure for violin culture coalesced through an expanding violin trade, influential educational initiatives, growing concert life, new string repertoire, and the nascent entertainment and catering industries. Christina Bashford draws a freshly broad picture of string playing and its popularity, emphasizing grass-roots activities, amateurs' pursuits, and everyday work in the profession's underbelly, allowing many long-ignored lives to be recognized and untold stories heard. It also explores the allure of stringed instruments, especially the violin, in Britain, analyzing and contextualizing how the instruments and their players, makers, and collectors were depicted and understood.


‘Bashford's book reshapes the scholarly landscape on ensemble performance traditions in the United Kingdom, revealing complex social, cultural, educational, artistic, and intellectual networks that have long been overlooked and undervalued.'

Eric Saylor - Professor of Music History, Drake University


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